MOLINE, Ill. — The Hy-Vee store on John Deere Road is not a usual stop for Moline Firefighters.
"It’s a little different for us," said Moline Fire Department Lt. Jim Van Vooren. "We’re usually out there helping people in worst case scenarios , this is a little bit different scenario but it’s just nice to help people out whatever way you can."
Van Vooren and two other firefighters delivered Thanksgiving meals to families in need on Wednesday. Fire department administrators also assisted them with delivery.
"We’re glad to give them a hand any way we can," Van Vooren said.
Altogether, Hy-Vee donated enough food for 143 Thanksgiving meal bags, according to Moline 3rd Ward Alderman Mike Wendt. The store said each bag contains enough food to feed a family of four.
When the fire truck arrived in front of each home, Van Vooren and his team brought that food right to people's door.
"Most people were kinda surprised actually when we were there, maybe just a little bit shocked that we’re there, but they’re always grateful," Van Vooren said.
The City of Moline provided Hy-Vee with a lost of families who are in need this holiday season. That was the same list compiled by the city earlier this year from area schools, in determining which students did not have access to computers or internet for online learning.
The firefighters were not alone in delivering these meals. They had help from their police department colleagues, too.
"This has been a tough year, tough year for everybody as we all know and 2020 has thrown a lot of curve balls at us," said Moline Police Chief Darren Gault.
Gault said he is grateful for the opportunity to connect with his community, even amid the pandemic.
"We haven’t been able to do any of our outreach events and get into the community, spend time with our citizens, our community and this has been a great event for us to connect and do our part to give people a little of a helping hand this holiday season," Gault said.
And, Gault said he is grateful Moline police officers were able to serve their community, too.
"At least for thanksgiving someone will have a great meal and will be able to reflect on this holiday season and spend time with their own families," Gault said.
With each delivery, the firefighters hoped to leave a simple message.
"I just hope people realize that they’re not alone," Van Vooren said.
These first responders lent a hand, where ever duty called.
The Moline Police Department's Community Policing Unit also held a fundraiser to help purchase more food. Those funds covered 10 additional meals not covered by Hy-vee, according to Moline 3rd Ward Alderman Mike Wendt.
Over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday, Moline first responders delivered 153 meal bags to area families, Wendt said.